The short answer is No!!
This morning one of our agents asked me a great question. Why do we go to all the hassle to create an individual listing website and comprehensive digital marketing campaign for each of our listings vs. just paying to have a virtual tour created? In my gut I have known that a virtual tour is not enough but I did not really take the time to articulate it until now.
Buyer behaviour has changed in the real estate industry. 90% of buyers use the internet to help them find their property. That is profound statistic. A virtual tour is simply not enough when we are talking those numbers. 90% of our marketing budget needs to be online to reach those buyers.
Don’t get me wrong virtual tours are great and have their place in the campaign but just doing a virtual tour is not enough. At Sage Real Estate all of our listings have virtual tours as well as a carefully crafted digital marketing campaign dedicated to that listing.
At the centre of the campaign is an individual listing website that we build for each and every listing and lives on its own domain i.e. www.120MainSt.com. The focus of the campaign is to utilize an array of digital and traditional tactics to drive traffic to that website.
So why is a virtual tour not enough?
1) Branding. A brokerage cannot effectively brand a virtual tour they can however effectively brand an individual listing website. A strong consistent brand is important to the long-term viability of a brokerage.
2) Innovation. There is so much innovation taking place on the internet that can be harnessed for the effective marketing of a listing. An individual listing website allows you to capture and apply new innovations. A great example of some elements that we have been playing with for some of our listings sites include:
a. PhotoSynth for an out of this world visual experience. Check out their site and you will understand just how powerful this can be. The only stumbling block is the need to first download a small piece of code for it to work. When they figure out how to get around that issue you will see this on all of our listing sites.
b. Walk Score which provides deep insights into the listings neighbourhood. When selling a property you are not just selling the physical property but also the lifestyle of living in that home and neighbourhood. WalkScore provides some great insights into the neighbourhood and what it would be like living there. You will be seeing WalkScore in more and more of our sites.
When you are able to start to integrate these innovations you are able to improve the buyers experience while reviewing your listing which translates to positive perception of the property and ultimately a higher purchase price.
3) Tracking. Each website comes with Google Analytic Tracking. This provides deep insights into how buyers are engaging with your property online and which marketing tactic drove them to your site. Understanding those two things allows you to alter your marketing campaign to be more effective.
4) Competitive advantage. Any agent with $100 can hire a virtual tour company and throw the listing on realtor.ca. It takes a brokerage and agent that truly gets it and has made the appropriate investment in technology and human capital to effectively leverage a full complement of digital tools to effectively market a listing online. As the world shifts online this is becoming more and more important.
5) Flexibility. Change is a constant in today’s marketplace. By controlling the website build we are able to make necessary adjustments as new trends emerge.
If anyone has any other thoughts on this question I encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comment section.